An Imperial alumnus who created a virtual reality sketching tool has won £50,000 in Innovate UK’s Women in Innovation awards.
Daniela Paredes Fuentes, founder of Gravity Sketch, is one of nine women to be recognised in the 2019 awards, which celebrate women with ideas that could meet society’s biggest challenges set out in the government’s modern Industrial Strategy.
My team said, “okay – we’re in an academic environment, we’re safe – let’s explore, go as crazy as possible and really challenge the topic we want to study" Daniela Paredes Fuentes
Gravity Sketch uses Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality to allow designers to intuitively sketch objects in an immersive 3D space.
Most of the time, designers have to create multiple 2D sketches, then translate those sketches into a single 3D image using specialist software such as CAD. Gravity Sketch allows for a ‘purer expression of an idea’, it’s co-founders say, allowing designers to draw exactly what they see in their minds.
Car manufacturer Ford are among companies to collaborate with Gravity Sketch, using the technology to create models around themselves and adjust the features to best suit the vehicle's occupants.
Daniela co-founded Gravity Sketch with fellow Imperial students whilst studying on Imperial’s Innovation Design Engineering programme, a course run jointly between Imperial’s Dyson School of Design Engineering and the Royal College of Art. The team went on to compete in the Venture Catalyst Challenge – Imperial’s flagship entrepreneurial competition - in 2015, and have also been supported by Imperial College Advanced Hackspace.
Daniela said: “My undergraduate degree is in industrial design – designing products that focus on human needs, taking into account ergonomics, aesthetics and usability. But I always felt that there was something missing, and I needed to be able to understand how things work to be able to challenge them. I decided to go to London to study a joint masters in innovation and design engineering at the Royal College of Art (RCA) and Imperial College London.
“My team said, “okay – we’re in an academic environment, we’re safe – let’s explore, go as crazy as possible and really challenge the topic we want to study.
"There are so many great ideas stuck in people’s heads. Maybe they haven’t evolved to become great ideas because the tools aren’t there yet. I want to provide the tools to help people push their creativity further.”
Speaking of her success, Daniela added: ‘It’s not just about making money. We’ve created a really interesting product. When you see it in the hands of people and it makes them excited and happy, and they tell you it’s game-changing – it’s about that.”
Business Secretary Greg Clark, who announced the winners, said: “The winning women are developing pioneering innovations to tackle the grand challenges we face as a society, from a new paper coating to cut down single use plastic, to helping us train mechanics using simulators.
“This is our modern Industrial Strategy in action, backing businesses of all sizes across the UK to grow and boost the economy with the skills and inventions we need for the next generation.
Daniela was sponsored by Imperial under the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa from 2014-2016.
Article text (excluding photos or graphics) © Imperial College London.
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